But then there's that nagging voice in my head. "If you don't go to the effort to make your kids' costumes, you're a failure as a mommy," it whispers. (iAre You a Terrible Mother?)
My own mother remembers proudly how she spent many a late October day laboring over my costumes in anticipation of the Big Night. Sure enough, there's evidence: Pictures of me in handmade costumes, dressed as a pumpkin, as Raggedy Ann, as a fluffy bunny (I refused to wear the hat with rabbit ears but did carry Mom's handmade carrot shaped candy bag), as well as countless other ensembles. And what did I, the ungrateful lout, complain about? That other kids had store-bought costumes of the characters du jour, the flimsy ones with the scratchy, too-small plastic faces, and pinhole eye openings.
Which brings me to the store-bought costume dilemma.
Should you buy the less expensive costume or the ornate one that sets you back the monetary equivalent of the price of 30 pounds of the GOOD chocolate bars (not including the subsequent dentist and nutritionist appointments)?
Case in point: Last summer, my then-four-year-old son, Jonah, began his obsession with Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story movie fame. The moment he laid eyes on a Buzz costume in a party store, he HAD to have it. It was early September. I hadn't even begun to think about Halloween yet, but figured I'd buy it: a) to quiet him (because there was no way I'd be able to make a decent Buzz costume) and b) to cross "get Jonah's Halloween costume" off my to-do list.
All was fine until he went to a Halloween party and saw a kid in an even more elaborate Buzz costume. It had wings (Jonah's had none). It had boots (Jonah's didn't). It had contoured shoulder puffs (Jonah's, again, sadly, none). Jonah looked down at his thin, nylon, hooded costume and grimaced, "I want a costume like THAT!"
But even if parents attempt to supplant their guilt for not making a costume with buying the expensive duds (that no one will really see under cover of mid-autumn trick-or-treating darkness or beneath a jacket because it's too chilly) you can still be left out in the cold.
A child of one of my friends received a luxurious Captain Hook costume as a gift from a family member one year. Seriously, the thing must've cost a small fortune. Only problem was that the kid was afraid of it and wanted absolutely no part of it. A limp Captain Hook hung lifeless in a closet, unloved and forever unused.
Prepare for Disappointment
The lesson here? No matter which way you go with your Halloween costume choices, your son or daughter is destined to spot a "better" costume sported by some other lucky tot and lament at great volume. So before investing your energy, time, and hard-earned cash in attempting to conjure up the alter ego of your child's dreams, be sure to lower your expectations.
In fact, why not just be preemptive? Treat yourself to your own stash of Halloween chocolate now. When the sugar high hits, go ahead flip through the pages of the parenting magazines purporting to provide quick and easy costume ideas and chortle guiltlessly.